The French Department at Reed College believes that Black Lives Matter, here and everywhere in the world. Our field of studies spans several centuries and many geographical spaces, and our perspective, as a U.S.-based academic department whose discipline focuses on materials that exist primarily beyond our borders, is necessarily transnational and transcultural. We cannot ignore that a significant portion of the literary, cinematographic, artistic and cultural objects that make our disciplinary corpus so rich and expansive is the direct result of the catastrophic encounter between metropolitan France and the African continent. That from such a brutal encounter have emerged so many powerful voices is a testament to the undeniable value of Black lives. From this position, we recognize that European colonialism and imperialism played an important role in codifying the institutionalized racism that we all have inherited and often failed to confront. We acknowledge that we are living during a time when racism, intolerance, and anti-blackness pervade our country and our world. We stand in solidarity with our community members of color who have experienced significant emotional and physical harm and with all those who are uniting to dismantle systemic racism here in Portland, in America and in the world.
As a Department, we pledge to examine our practices at the classroom and the College levels.
While our discipline has historically centered continental French cultural producers and downplayed the talent of “outside” contributors, the French Department at Reed has long strived to include voices from the broader French-speaking world — the Caribbean, Sub-Saharan Africa, the Maghreb, and more. We wish to recommit, today, to elevating these perspectives in our program offerings.
We invite our students and fellow community members to help us to better understand how our department and community can participate in founding a more just, equitable, and inclusive institution, and help us amplify the voices of those traditionally left out of academia for racist reasons. We welcome conversations with students, staff, and fellow faculty about how works from the French-speaking world can help us to understand and combat the legacy of colonialism in the modern world. We commit to continuing to grapple with the racist legacies of academia and to elevate the important work being done across the college, the country, and the world to put an end to racial intolerance and dehumanization.